ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo is looking after three orphaned otters before they, hopefully, return to the wild.
The three pups were found in different spots of eastern North Carolina and are believed to be between 12 and 18 weeks old.
Dr. Jb Minter, the zoo’s director of animal health, said they were in good physical condition with no apparent signs of injury or illness.
“We are caring for them as hands-off as possible because we want to preserve their natural behaviors to ensure they have a better chance of surviving in the wild,” Dr. Minter said.
Releasing them as a group can also boost their chance of success, said Halley Buckanoff, the Wildlife Center’s veterinarian technician.
While they may not be actual siblings, the zoo is bringing them together as a foster family.
“Creating these foster families allows them to socialize with their species, and the younger ones often learn from their older ‘siblings,’” Buckanoff said. “Right now, they’re sleeping together, eating alongside each other with no signs of competition, and swimming together. They’re doing great as a group.”
One, a female otter, was found in a parking lot in Raeford, North Carolina, on May 2. She got to the zoo on May 12.
The zoo believes she may be between 14 and 16 weeks old, the oldest of the three.
The other two, both male, were rescued by Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in Newport, North Carolina. One of the boys is about six weeks old, and the other is about eight weeks old.
The eight-week-old was rescued near the Cedar Island Bridge on April 27. His mother was found dead nearby after she was hit by a car.
The six-week-old was found in the road after a heavy rain in the Peletier area on April 25.
Dr. Emily Christiansen, the chief veterinarian for the three North Carolina Aquariums, made plans for all three to come to the North Carolina Zoo.
If all goes as planned, the three foster siblings will get to go back to the wild in late summer or early fall.
To follow the progress of the otter pups, please follow the North Carolina Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.